Qiana Allen, co-founder of Chicago-based Munchiez, is ready to “eat her hat” after doubting that TikTok could be a useful marketing channel for her business. For her store and restaurant, which sells sweet and savory foods, TikTok has been crucial to driving sales.
Allen discussed the power of TikTok at SXSW in Austin, with a panel consisting of two other small businesses, and Becca Sawyer, TikTok’s global head of small- and medium-sized businesses.
Companies like Munchiez, Sani and Bastrop Cattle Company couldn’t be further from Chipotle or Arby’s, which have been held up as major brands flooding into the Chinese-owned app to learn the new ways of social commerce and content. These smaller businesses serve niche fashion, in the case of Sani, which designs Indian and South Indian styles; Munchiez owns a bespoke sweets shop; and Bastrop is a meat wholesaler that sells its products straight from the farm.
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TikTok has been lighting up SXSW with many influencers and creators packing into halls for panels to catch glimpses of what other people are seeing in the platform, and to see if they could figure out what makes it so successful. If TikTok is going to grow into an advertising powerhouse, it will be through onboarding millions of small businesses that learned social media marketing on Facebook and Instagram.